2.24.19 - Life as a Spirit In-Dwelt Church (Fred Miller)
SCRIPTURE: Acts 3-5 (Acts 3:17-26)
In the wake of Peter’s sermon at Pentecost, we see a cycle of events develop that will dominate the church’s story in the weeks and months ahead. Over and over again, the disciples--now filled with the Holy Spirit--perform miracles of healing, forgiveness, and generosity among the Jewish people, each followed by a proclamation of Jesus’s story and a call to repent and be baptized. And then, over and over again, the Jewish authorities have the disciples questioned (and sometimes arrested) for creating such a disruption. In the face of this, the disciples hold fast to their testimony about Jesus’s resurrection, and they even praise God for the privilege of suffering for Jesus’s sake. Underneath it all, we see real evidence accumulating behind Peter’s claim at Pentecost: the Christian church is a new Temple, filled with the Holy Spirit and called to take the overwhelming love of God’s presence out, among the nations. Our own church is a descendent of that movement, and the faithfulness, boldness, and confidence of the first apostles is available to us as well.
Before Peter and John heal the beggar in Acts 3, the text says that they “looked straight at him.” How might we be challenged by this detail? What do you think they see?
When the disciples are before the Sanhedrin, they say that they “cannot help speaking about what they have seen and heard.” Have you ever felt similarly driven to share something exciting in your own life? What was it? Have you ever felt this way about your faith? If so, what happened when you shared it?
Reread the story of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5. What do you make of this story? Why are Ananias and Sapphira punished? What lessons do you think we can draw from this story? What in this story is hard for you to hear or accept?
Peter and the other disciples go to great lengths to insist to the Jewish authorities that their mission is a fulfilment of Scripture and not a heresy or deviation from it. Why do you think this is so important to them?
What are some of the core values and practices we see in the early church in Acts 3-5? How might we strive to imitate them in our own church community? What is the model we see here for what a healthy church might look like?